Wales for Africa - to work
Spent a packed day meeting, greeting, listening to some pretty amazing people. I’ve already got a much better picture of who does what, who funds what and why. The NGO sector is huge in Africa, and for the most part it deals directly with civic and community organizations, but at some points, for example the Civic Forum on Housing & Habitat, where I am, it has to deal with the government in a lobbying and advocacy role. Interesting, as the Forum is funded by the Swedish Cooperative Centre, which is itself funded by the Swedish Government.
Some things are surprisingly familiar - there are issues that the Zambian Government wants organizations to mainstream: sustainability is a familiar one; gender, perhaps; but HIV/Aids is a well established agenda here, and anti-fraud and corruption is actively being promoted now (I should know, I had to sit through the meeting!)
Wales for Africa - touchdown
Zambia is very flat, so the horizon all around is low. Even at 6am it’s about 17°C and we’re warm and sticky. Driving from the airport towards Lusaka, it could pass for a southern European hot dry country - blue sky, yellow earth, palm trees. Except there's a burnt, nutty smell hanging on the air, making my nose tickle. The roads are pretty good, straight and smooth. It’s early and there’s not so much traffic, but we pass loads of cyclists, making a laboured journey towards town with their bikes laden with parcels wrapped in various materials, mostly straw, built up in a well-balanced if precarious heap up the back of the bike.
When I got in the back of the car I automatically went to put on my seatbelt and, struggling a bit, asked where the buckle was only to be told with a smile that it was ok. I wondered what was ok, then realised that he was telling me it was ok not to wear a seat belt. Then I noticed that both men in the front weren’t wearing seatbelts either.
I later learnt that the smoky smell is charcoal burning, and many of those brave cyclists we passed were carrying bundles of it to sell by the roadsides in Lusaka.
October in Oriel 1
There are lots of things happening in the gallery this month. There's the Keepsakes Project Workshop this saturday, and curator of costumes and textiles, Elen Phillips will also be giving behind the scenes tours of the Museum stores. It is essential that you book in advance for the tours (which will also be held the week after on the 16th too) as spaces are limited.
This months Playtime session for toddlers is now fully booked, so make sure you book early for the next ones!
As usual, the art cart will be in the gallery during October half term. From Saturday 23 until Friday 29 of October we will be making things to do with Keepsakes to tie in with the exhibiton, and then on the 30th and 31st we will be making something spooky for Halloween.
Keepsakes project workshop
We had a lovely time at the workshop on Saturday making rush memory ropes with Prue Thimbleby and little books and labels with Becky Adams. We'll be running it again next saturday, 9 October from 11 until 1 and 2 until 4. No need to book as it's a drop in session.